Eggs Benedict, French toast, clever omelets: the stuff that modern Denver brunches are made of. But the weekend mid-morning meal doesn't have to be basic, even if hangover cure is your stated brunch-time goal. Señor Bear (3301 Tejon Street) has proven itself a bold and creative addition to the LoHi restaurant scene since opening last summer, and a new brunch, set to debut on Sunday, January 7, promises further explorations into Latin American cuisine, with influences as far flung as Miami, the Dominican Republic, Peru and Brazil.
Ever had a misto quente? Chef Blake Edmunds livens up the Brazilian grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich with jalapeño bread, tomato jam and two kinds of cheese: muenster and mozzarella. Think of it as a peppier version of a croque monsieur, with some of the cheese inside the sandwich and some broiled golden and bubbly atop the bread.
For a more traditional breakfast, the comida completa comes with fried eggs, tostones (paper-thin strips of fried plantain), chorizo and fried potatoes — but not just any old hash browns. These have been cooked confit-style in a bath of seasoned fat before being fried, so the spicy seasonings penetrate deep into each crisp-edged bite.
Chorizo also makes an appearance on the frita Cubana, a sandwich that's popular in Miami but here appears as more of a double cheeseburger with a Caribbean attitude. There's a standard burger patty, but also a patty made from what Edmunds describes as Dominican-style chorizo, brightened with a hint of bitter orange peel as evidence of its tropical origins. A cascade of fries under the top bun completes the burger, making it an excellent transition from brunch to lunch.
Perhaps the most impressive, if least brunchy, item on the new menu is the chicken-fried steak, which isn't steak at all, but rather an imposing brick of beef short rib cooked until it's fork-shreddable, then further breaded and fried. A bright-green ribbon of piquant chimichurri sauce and a pool of cheesy grits round out the dish. Other brunch options include an acai bowl, chilaquiles, a coddled egg (a soft egg cooked in a jar) with bacon jam and grilled bread, and fries dressed with crispy pig ears and aji soy butter round out the roster.
Further hangover-vanquishing can be accomplished with a few cocktails designed just for brunch, including the Frozen Sherry Cobbler (a bracing mix of amontillado sherry, citrus juices and mint), red or white sangria, a Latinized Pimm's Cup, and a michelada that comes with a float of either mezcal or tequila (your call). If drinking local is your thing, the white sangria and Pimm's Cup shouldn't be missed; they both contain a special CapRock brandy made by Peak Spirits from grapes grown and distilled at the company's Jack Rabbit Hill Farm on the Western Slope.
Brunch service at Señor Bear runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday. Call the restaurant at 720-572-5997 for reservations and other information.